continued from yesterday
... It is easy for us to forget that Jesus participated fully in humanity. He suspended his knowledge of all things while he was on earth (e.g., Mark 13:32). Even though we believe he was God, on earth he had to learn who he was, and he had to learn God's will, just as we do.
Jesus taught, and he taught primarily in stories and riddles. The primary example Mark gives us is Jesus' parable of the soils in Mark 4. A farmer throws seed on four different kinds of soil: the path, rocky soil, soil where there were weeds, and good soil. Birds snatch the first. The second has no root and so gets scorched by the sun. The third gets choked by weeds, and only the seed on the fourth soil thrives.
Jesus' point is that not everyone will respond appropriately to his news of the kingdom. Only the one who "has ears to hear" will hear and follow (4:9). Ironically, Jesus' own followers don't understand this riddle, a fact to which we will return in the next chapter. Jesus' own disciples don't understand the parable whose point is that only those with faith will understand his riddles!
Inevitably, Jesus got into conflict. He didn't go looking for it. It inevitably came looking for him. When you are making as big an impact as Jesus was, some people are going to feel threatened. They're going to get jealous. Some are just going to flat disagree with you. Jesus had his share of that, and eventually it grew so great that they put him to death.
Mark, Part 2
The turning point of Mark, as is often said, comes after Jesus acknowledges to Peter that he is the Christ, the expected anointed one of Israel (Mark 8:27-30). The tone and direction of Mark changes from that point on. Up to this point, everything has been, "go, go, go!" Jesus has healed, he has cast out demons, crowds of immense proportions have followed him.
But now the tone changes. Three times Jesus will tell his disciples that he is going to Jerusalem to die. There is a sense of foreboding and destiny. Although Jesus does still heal and the crowds still follows, he seems to spend more time privately with his key followers.
Mark 9 records the curious event of the Transfiguration, where Peter and James and John see Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. They will emerge as a core group of disciples within the larger group of the Twelve, even after the resurrection. Unfortunately, James and John seemed to want such privileged roles. They got into conflict with the other disciples over their desire to have the highest roles in the coming kingdom (10:35-40).
Indeed, at another point the whole group of disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest when the kingdom would come (9:34). They must have thought that they were going to Jerusalem for Jesus to become king, not to die. We will return to the disciples' lack of understanding in the next chapter, a key theme of Mark...